Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1167/33750
Campaigning in Birmingham Erdington by-election
'Give me those leaflets, that's what we've all been saying'
Joe Foster, Erdington resident and Birmingham North Socialist Party
A worker we met said: "These MPs with two homes when some can't get one are a disgrace". They are now out leafleting with us for Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate Dave Nellist. On every canvass in the Birmingham Erdington by-election campaign, we are getting positive responses.
The constituency has the eighth lowest turnout in the country; that's confirmed by those saying that they don't vote. But people are pleased to see a party that offers a genuine anti-establishment alternative.
One woman answering the door said: "Give me some of those leaflets to give out at work, that's what we've all been saying, we need a new party". Another remarked: "My dad's a socialist, but you can't say the same about Labour anymore".
So far, all of Stockland Green has been canvassed and leafleted - along with inroads elsewhere, that represents a quarter of the constituency. Socialist Party members have been out alongside supporters of Resist, including former Labour MP Chris Williamson, leading activists from trade unions - RMT, FBU, NEU, PCS, Usdaw - and volunteers from far and near.
As well as outnumbering Labour and Tory canvassing teams on the ground, we're also outdoing them on social media. Our Facebook and Twitter accounts attracted thousands of followers within the first week of the campaign, and hundreds of people are engaging with daily updates, showing the huge appetite for the pro-worker policies we're putting forward. A young woman worker who saw TUSC on Twitter has also helped the campaign, and has now joined the Socialist Party.
A council tenant said: "The council would not do a repair because they suspected kitchen fitments were installed by myself". I have the same problem getting my repairs!
One woman we met is next door to a multiple occupancy house for supported tenants that police are constantly being called to. The local councillor would not provide any solutions. The woman was not unsympathetic to the tenants, but angry at the £900-plus granted to landlords to supposedly provide support.
Pay and homes
Against these potential divisions between long-standing residents and those trapped in insecure and substandard bedsits, we put forward the need to fight for building high-quality, affordable council housing to ensure everyone has somewhere decent to call home.
In a relatively better-off area, a woman with a partner was holding down two jobs. Her anger at first was directed at "those on benefits", but we countered this with our policies of a £15-an-hour minimum wage and for wages to rise at least in line with inflation.
As well as campaigning on the issues facing working-class people in Erdington in the here and now, TUSC is standing to provide a programme to build a new workers' party to make these demands a reality. At last our message is getting out there.
- Campaign with us in Erdington nellistforerdington.com/join
In The Socialist 16 February 2022:
What we think